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Released: Nov. 5, 2002

Rating: 3.867 (average of 6 ratings)

Genre: country

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. The Man Comes Around
  2. Hurt (Reznor)
  3. Give My Love to Rose
  4. Bridge Over Troubed Water (Simon)
  5. I Hung My Head (Sting)
  6. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (MacColl)
  7. Personal Jesus (Gore)
  8. In My Life (Lennon/ McCartney)
  9. Sam Hall (Ritter)
  10. Danny Boy (Weatherly)
  11. Desperado (Frey/ Henley)
  12. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Williams)
  13. Tear Stained Letter
  14. Streets of Laredo (traditional)
  15. We’ll Meet Again (Charles/ Parker)
Songs written by Cash unless noted otherwise.

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 1.6
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 1.6


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 45
peak on U.K. album chart 40

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Hurt (3/8/03) #39 UK, #56 CW, #3 MR, sales: 0.5 m
  • Personal Jesus (11/03) --

Notes: --


Country Music Association award for Album of the Year. Click to go to CMA site.

American IV: The Man Comes Around
Johnny Cash
American IV: The Man Comes Around is the fourth album in the American series by Johnny Cash, released in 2002. The majority of songs are covers which Cash performs in his own sparse style, with help from producer Rick Rubin.” WK It “continues on the same path as many of their previous releases: Cash’s warm and rumbling baritone” ZJ “built around spare arrangements and unflinching honesty in performance and subject.” AN There are “gentle duets with some surprising guests” ZJ and, like its predecessors, American IV draws heavily on covers while also integrating some of Cash’s original songs.

As “the final Cash album released during his lifetime,” WK this comes across as “one of the most autobiographical albums of the 70-year-old singer-songwriter's career.” AN The album “advances a quiet power and pathos.” AN “Nearly every tune seems chosen to afford the ailing giant of popular music a chance to reflect on his life, and look ahead to what’s around the corner.” AN “In 15 songs, Cash moves through dark, haunted meditations on death and destruction, poignant farewells, testaments to everlasting love, and hopeful salutes to redemption. He sounds as if he means every word, his baritone-bass, frequently frayed and ravaged, taking on a weary beauty.” AN “By the time he gets to the Beatles’ In My Life, you’ll very nearly cry. Go ahead. He sounds as if he’s about to, too. Unforgettable.” AN

Nowhere is the autobiographical feel of the songs more prevalent than on Hurt. Cash turned the song into his own epitaph. “Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor admitted that he was initially ‘flattered’ but worried that ‘the idea of Cash covering ‘Hurt’ sounded a bit gimmicky,’ but when he heard the song and saw the video for the first time, Reznor said he was deeply moved and found Cash’s cover beautiful and meaningful. He later said in an interview, ‘I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.’” WK

The video “was nominated in seven categories at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards and won the award for Best Cinematography. In February 2003, mere days before his 71st birthday.” WK The video “also won a Grammy for Best Short Form Video at the 2004 Awards.” WK

“Cash won another Grammy Award for Best Country Male Vocal Performance for Give My Love to Rose, a song Cash had originally recorded in the late 1950s.” WK

Elsewhere, critical reaction to some of Cash’s selections is mixed. “The success he experienced with his previous interpretations of contemporary songwriters (Soundgarden’s ‘Rusty Cage,’ Nick Cave’s ‘The Mercy Seat’) is applied to this album with varying degrees of success.” ZJ The aforementioned “throaty reading of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ easily fits into his ‘Man in Black’ persona, and the spiritual conviction underlying Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus is certainly powerful.” ZJ For the latter, “Rubin asked Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante to re-work an acoustic version of Martin Gore’s song, which featured a simple acoustic riff that stripped down the song to a blues style.” WK

“One of the reasons his previous covers were so successful is that in the past he had chosen some pretty obscure songs (Bonnie Prince Billy’s ‘I See a Darkness’ and Beck’s ‘Rowboat,’ to name a couple) and reinterpreted them with his unique perspective and unmistakable voice.” ZJ “There is really no need to hear his versions” ZJ of such well known songs as “Bridge Over Troubled Water (featuring a lost-sounding Fiona Apple),” ZJ Desperado (with Don Henley straining to keep his voice from overpowering Cash’s frail croak), “the Irish standard Danny Boy or the clunky rendition of Sting’s I Hung My Head, since something about them just doesn’t fit – either Cash wasn’t entirely comfortable with the song or the performance was never fully realized.” ZJ

“Luckily, the new songs Cash wrote for the album are pretty strong,” ZJ including “Cash’s own The Man Comes Around, filled with frightening images of Armageddon.” AN Also, “his cover of the standard We’ll Meet Again is among the best versions of the song ever recorded. It is a relief to hear that, although Cash’s voice is clearly older and not the booming powerhouse it was in the earlier Sun and Columbia days, he’s still got some punch left in him, and the wisdom he’s gained in his later life seeps through between the grooves, revealing a man who has lived through it all and lived to tell the tale.” ZJ

This album was “his first non-compilation album to go gold (selling over 500,000 copies) in thirty years.” WK It also “won ‘Album of the year’ award at the 2003 CMA awards.” WK

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Last updated April 27, 2010.